I went through MEPS on November 2007, in Brooklyn, NY to join the active duty Navy. I’m writing this for all the recruits who are thinking of joining the military. Here is my personal experience going through MEPS. This is going to be pretty long so grab a drink. First afternoon you will take your ASVAB test and the next day you do your medical, meet with the job counselor, and take your first oath. Bring a change of clothes and a set of workout clothes, might also want to bring a book. I wouldn’t recommend ipods or handheld game devices or anything expensive. You need to lock up your bag in a locker for most of the day, and there’s a risk of it getting stolen or damaged.
My recruiter picked me up and we went to the recruiting station to fill out some paperwork for the security background check. I filled out forms detailing some people who knew me at my current address and high school. I was supposed to use people like teachers, bosses, colleagues, but I just went through my cell phone contacts and filled in a bunch of my friends (found out later I wasn’t supposed to but it’s okay). You need to put down their addresses too, so if you don’t know your friend’s addresses you need to call them and ask. They aren’t going to be solicited for recruitment or anything in case you are worried about that. You just need to put it down. I think you need 6-9 people for this purpose. Another part of the form is your job history for the last 7 years. I didn’t know the addresses of my workplaces but my recruiter looked it up for me on the internet. Just need the store address, phone number, and the name of your bosses.
There are a few other forms about your elegibility, past accidents, medications, drug use, crime record, if you are a nazi or communist, if you have an attraction to the recently deceased (not joking it was on there), and other general clerical stuff. Everything on this part of the form should be gone over with your recruiter before you initial Yes or No. Answer these questions truthfully, because if you lie on this form and they catch you, you will be guilty of fraudulent enlistment and dishonarably discharged and probably have to pay a fine and even go to jail (nobody actually goes to jail for that but still). If you are dishonorably discharged you are barred from joining any branch of the military, it is a serious offense. So if your recruiter tells you to lie about anything, DO NOT DO IT. The biggest thing people lie about on this is previous drug use, noteably marijuana. If you smoked before you can get a waiver for it as long as it wasn’t more than three times. Talk to your recruiter about it. Most recruiters are honest, but there are some that are just lazy as hell and don’t want to do the paperwork for waivers. Better safe than sorry, be honest on that form and make sure your recruiter does the work for you if you need any waivers. The paperwork took a long time, like 3 hours or so, but you will find out real quick how the military treats you. After the paperwork, my recruiter drove me down to the MEPS center, for Brooklyn it’s at the Fort Hamilton army base.
Once you get in you go to the front desk, they ask you your name and social security number, and print you out a nametag. I went downstairs to take the ASVAB, lined up with a few other recruits and when a computer terminal was open they seated me for the test. They give you about 3 hours for the test, I finished in about 1 hour and went outside and watched a movie till they called me for a bus to the hotel. After waiting a few hours, the shuttle came and we filled out these little permission slips basically outlining the rules for the hotel, no drinking, no drugs, dinner times are up to 8:45, gym is open till 9:00, wear proper attire and stuff, and you had to be in your rooms by 10pm for curfew. Signed at the bottom and we went on the shuttle bus.
We stayed at a marriot in staten island, pretty nice place. Food was pretty bleh but I was hungry so. They assigned roomates at the restaurant/mess hall, and after we ate we went back to our rooms. I went to my room and took a shower, my roommate went to the gym. By that time it was like 8:30 so I didn’t feel like going to the gym for 30 mins and just did some pushups in my room and watched tv for awhile. I couldn’t fall asleep until like 3 am and wakeup call was at 4:15am. =(
Went downstairs for breakfast, they had eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, bagels, the breakfast food was pretty good. I talked with some of the other recruits while eating. Talk of the table was ASVAB scores and what they were joining, you might be working with some of these people in the future so no harm in making friends right?
Check-in we lined up, went through a metal detector and then got seperated into our respective branches. I recieved a green folder with my ASVAB scores and medical forms then got sent downstairs to the navy waiting area. Down there I locked up my bag and went back upstairs for the medicals. A lady took my blood pressure, marked it on my med sheet and sent me to another room for the hearing test. They stick you in this soundproof box that looks like a disney ride, inside there are headsets and a buzzer, you just press the buzzer when you hear the noise, not too bad. After the test, another room where I had my picture taken and a guy asks me some questions, “Have you ever served in the armed forces”, “Are you a US citizen”, and some other quick questions I can’t remember. I also recieved a set of stickers for the rest of the medical. After that I went to a briefing room where a Lt. explained the rules in MEPS, and walked us through filling the medical forms out. Basically some of the same paperwork I did at the recruiting station, just answer truthfully to all the questions. You take a breathalyzer test after this part and get sent out to sit for the next part of the medical.
Now to get to the fun part. Waiting! You will be waiting a long time at MEPS, it is line after line. I went upstairs and waited for the eye exam, move down the line for 40 mins or so. There is the basic eye test read the last line on the wall, the depth perception test was nuts, you had to choose a raised bump from a group of 5 black circles. I failed the depth perception test, but as far as I know, it didn’t disqualify me from any jobs. Since I was going navy, I also had to take a color test to make sure I wasn’t colorblind. It looks like one of those spam verification thingys, read a number inside a bunch of colored dots. For the next part I wear contacts so I had to take them out. It was one of those machines at the eye doctors where you place your chin on the rest and they use the machine to find your corrective vision.
After the eye exam, I lined up to give blood to test for HIV or AIDS, they stick a little needle in your arm to fill up a vial. After that is the urine test, you just pee in a cup. That might seem simple, but the recruits before me looked like they had some trouble with it. Piss all over the floor and a bunch of guys lining up for the sink with their hands held up away from their body. =(
I’m proud to say I didn’t piss all over my hands, but it isn’t really as easy as it looks, I’m just pro.
The next part, I went into a room where the guy told me to strip down to my boxers, take off my shoes and socks, and have a seat. So I waited in a room with a bunch of guys in their boxers. One thing I forgot to mention before is to wear underwear. I heard theres always one or two guys that show up without underwear. Lucky for me, everyone that day remembered to wear their boxers. We had to do a few exercises to test our joints and range of motion and all that. Jumping jacks, pushups, duck walk, squats, there were some hand and wrist exercises, doctors made sure all your fingers were working, etc. A guy took our heights and weight, and then did some tape measure things for the people with body fat percentage over the limit. After that, we sat back down till we got to see the physician. Keep in mind, these physicians aren’t here to chat. It is all business, answer all their questions politely and be concise, they don’t have time for BS. The doctors here will try to disqualify you for any reason, so make sure you answer everything on your medical forms truthfully. If you had chickenpox before you need to write that down. The doctor asked me some questions about my vision, asked me when I had chickenpox and I told him, he seemed satisfied with that, didn’t require documentation and that was about it. I don’t want to ruin the suprise but the doc also has to check your asshole for hemmoroids, check to see if you have both your testicles, turn your head and cough, all that fun stuff. Wasn’t as bad as it sounds and is the last part of the physical examinations.
Almost done! I went back downstairs and met with my recruiter. I still had to get a security interview and then see the job counselor. Security interview, simple process, just answer the questions you filled out before, they just need to check your background, and your parents. This interview decides your security clearance level, which affects some of the jobs you are able to get. After the interview, I talked to the job counselor about all the jobs I was qualified for. I chose a job there to get into DEP, they said I could change my rate any time before I am scheduled to ship out. Be careful with this, it is pretty common for them to do this, but watch out for the bait and switch. Read the contract carefully before you sign, and make sure you and your recruiter switch you to the rate you want before you ship out. The contract is a legally binding document, so if it’s not written there you aren’t getting it. That means if you don’t ship out with the job you want, you aren’t getting it. Make sure your enlistment bonus is correct and the obligated years of service are correct. After you get a copy of your contract, you are almost done with MEPS.
I went back upstairs where they took my fingerprints with a scanner and I gave a briefing about the oath ceremony. There is one more form to sign and you go into a velvet lined ceremony room with flags in the background and a podium like you might see on tv. Here you stand at attention and recite your oral oath to the United States government and the ranking officer signs off on it. Congratulations! You are now legally a part of the US military.
That was my MEPS experience, long as hell and really boring. Hopefully, you got some insight on the process and can be more prepared for it. Or you could just not join the military at all, problem solved!